Sunday, April 11, 2021

On The Shady Side... Of Green

Greenwashing has been a "thing" for some time. Now shareholders are making proposals based on it.

What is greenwashing? My spellcheck doesn't like the word. Apparently, it is the environmental equivalent of whitewashing, and it's been in use for thirty years.  With whitewashing, one spins something "bad" to sound "not so bad".  With greenwashing, one spins something not environmentally friendly to seem... environmentally responsible. It's mostly a PR and honest advertising issue. It may involve oxymorons such as "clean diesel", maybe "clean coal", and "100% organic".

Legal bloggers for Jenner & Block LLP  Todd Toral and P. J. Novack penned an interesting explanation of greenwashing, and a groundbreaking attempt by Greenpeace and others to use the old Green Guides offensively against a Big Oil company for, allegedly, misleading consumers about the greenness and social responsibility of its work.

Speaking of Honest advertising, the legal blogsphere is buzzing (a little bit) about dishonest influencers.  Apparently, the public is not smart enough to figure out that if a celebrity endorsement looks like for profit product placement, sounds like paid product placement... it most probably is a glorified advertisement.  The thing is, ones greenback-related motivations have to be disclosed every time, and perhaps the same goes for book promotion.

For the IP Law Watch blog of law firm K&L Gates of Boston, blogger Keisha Phippen discusses the topic of responsible influencing, and offers excellent and easy tips for how to avoid acting on the shady side of the law.

Finally, for today's loosely linked theme of shady doings, green stuff, money and deception is a great green gem about ransomware put out by Stephen Noel O'Connor of Leman.

Go here for the full article as a .pdf
Or read the extract here:

Did you know that in some countries in may be illegal to pay ransomware? 

Oh, and if you got the letter from Kroger about their pharmacy records being hacked at Accellion, remember there is a time limit (window closes May 31st)  to take up that offer for 24 months of Experian "Identity Works" id theft coverage. Separately, American Anesthesiology was compromised in a phishing attack. It might be wise to freeze your credit (free to do, easy and free to undo as long as you retain your PIN).

Equifax 1-800-525-6285
Experian 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
All the best,

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Starting Afresh

Kameron Hurley's newest LOCUS column discusses making a fresh start with the turn from winter to spring:

Plotting the Way Forward

Noting that the ancient Romans marked the New Year in March rather than January, Hurley muses about the signs of spring that show up in March. This year, she finds particular hope in the change of seasons because a potential end to the COVID crisis may be in sight. She ponders what is meant by "returning to normal": What will go back to the way it was? What will have changed permanently? As she puts it, “'normal' is a shifting target. After the last year, our world will not be quite the same."

One change she welcomes is the decline of shopping malls. Here I disagree. I'm a big fan of malls, even though with online ordering I haven't frequented our local mall in recent years nearly so much as I used to (especially after its chain bookstore closed). Sure, a green-space town center with a cluster of shops, within easy walking distance of home, would be lovely. But that's not likely to sprout up out of nowhere near us (all the ground within walking distance being occupied by houses or, if one has the stamina to hike one-point-three miles to the main road, existing stores). Nor does it describe the neighborhoods where I spent the years between age eight and moving out of my parents' home to get married. We lived in the suburbs. There was nowhere to walk except other houses and, a longish trek from our home, a major highway at the entrance to the development. A very long bike ride could take us to a shopping strip with one large store and several smaller ones. When the first actual mall opened near us (in the greater Norfolk, Virginia, area), in my teens, I was thrilled about the concept of shopping at a bunch of stores in the same location, with plenty of parking, under a ROOF! That last was a big deal in one of the more rainy regions of the country. And I still think malls are a great idea in places where most people depend on cars to get anywhere, which describes every city we've lived in throughout our married life.

But I digress. Some of the changes Hurley welcomes, I can agree with. As for the ambition to "re-think our crowded buildings in crowded cities that have few to no greenspaces," that sounds desirable, but such a revolution can't occur with the simple wave of a wand. Shifting many jobs to remote work is a change I'd like to see made permanent, if only for the sake of our grown children who've benefited from it. What about universal mask-wearing? I look forward to not having to do that all the time, yet I agree with Hurley on the advantage of getting sick less often. I could embrace a custom of wearing masks out and about when suffering from a mild illness, as many people do in Japan. As a probable side effect of the COVID precautions, I haven't had a cold in over a year. Hurley also looks forward to future advances in medical science as a result of discoveries made in the course of vaccine research. Like wars, pandemics can produce occasional positive technological side effects.

I've missed attending church in person, but I hope after we resume live gatherings our church will continue to record Sunday services for availabilty to people who can't be present for one reason or another. The pandemic has compelled us to try many such innovations that would be helpful to hang onto. The ubiquity of restaurant meal ordering, for example—it's become easier than ever before to get home-delivered meals from a wide variety of our favorite places, on websites instead of over the phone, prepaid with a credit card. With the success of virtual conventions in the past year, maybe some of them will continue to provide an online track for fans who can't make it to the physical location. However, there's at least one minor negative about the increasing shift to electronic media, from my personal viewpoint: More and more periodicals are switching to digital-only. I like magazines I can hold in my hands and, if worth rereading, store on a shelf.

A related trend that predated COVID but may have accelerated recently is the convenience of being able perform many activities such as financial and government transactions over the Web. No need to drive to the bank to transfer funds, the post office to buy stamps, or the motor vehicle office to renew a car registration. This trend is likely to continue and expand. Of course, the downside involves less convenience for people who don't have a computer (my 90-year-old aunt, for one, but many citizens lack computers and their associated functions from poverty, not choice) or adequate internet access. As has often been pointed out recently, computers with internet connections are no longer luxuries but household necessities on a level with water, electric, and phone services.

Hurley concludes by invoking March, which heralds spring in much of the northern hemisphere, as the time "when we celebrate surviving the very worst the world could throw at us, and plot a new way forward." Or, as Brad Paisley says in his optimistic song "Welcome to the Future," highlighting modern marvels formerly enjoyed only in the realm of science fiction, "Wherever we were going, hey, we're here."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Theme-Story Integration Part 8 - Game Theory And Public Relations The Epiphany Revisited

Theme-Story Integration

Part 8

 Game Theory And Public Relations 

One way to craft an immersive world into which to drop Characters is to take two elements of the "real" world, combine them, and let your blood boil until you're angry enough to ask a question your readers have not (yet) asked themselves.  

This process won't lead you directly to a "narrative hook" or the beginning of a story, but it will begin to reveal the theme that is rooted in the guts of your being, and that will yield a narrative hook.

Mostly, when you start this process, you become utterly inarticulate -- you can't put a word or a name to what you're feeling, and have no idea why it disturbs you.

It is your own internal conflict arising to compel you to write your story - the magnum opus of a lifetime.

It is the theme of your life, and inside that theme lies the point which connects you to all other humans of your generation, particularly those younger, or those less experienced.

Vocabulary must be expanded to cope with the nascent thoughts that churn upwards disturbing your view of the world.  Sometimes just randomly reading a dictionary or encyclopedia like Wikipedia can bring the vocabulary, and thus the tools with which to think the thoughts that will define your story's theme, into sharp focus.

A story isn't a plot, and it takes both to create a novel. A story by itself might yield a vignette or series of them - a randomized tapestry of scenes, not connected by anything.

A story is all about how emotions churn, become powered, arise and command actions (often ill chosen decisions).  A story is the evolution of wisdom within an individual.

But to craft a novel from a Story, the writer must find a PLOT.

A plot is the sequence of actions the Character initiates that cause Events, which cause more events, until the consequences of the initial action splash back on the Character and trigger an epiphany.

The epiphany in an action novel happens at the 3/4 point in the book -- in a Romance, ordinarily the "that's my man!" epiphany happens at the 1/3 point -- and in other sorts of drama, that turning point is the 1/2 point.

Knowing which genre you are writing in will help you find the narrative hook, the opening line of page 1, and the Conflict you must define on  page 1 and resolve on the last page.

By placing the epiphany that redirects the main character's thinking, and feeling, and thus action according to the genre, you will zero in on the Narrative Hook -- and within that Narrative Hook's choice of vocabulary, you will find the seeds of your epiphany.

Following this method of generating immersive novels will likely launch you into a 20 year writing project.  I have witnessed a few writers struggling with a novel they feel they must write and rewriting it for decades, eventually coming out with a theme-story integrated work of Art that is head and shoulders above previously published works.

It is the topic that makes your blood boil that leads to being able to finish a 20 or even 30 year war with the words of your novel.

You'll get the words right only if you're mad enough when you start, if what you have to say is gut-wrenchingly important to you, and you know how to explain that importance to your readers.

As noted above, one fertile source of such ideas is Wikipedia. Much of what you find there is not actually, wholly, true -- but the contents of wikipedia do reflect what a huge swath of the population thinks is true.

What is true vs what a majority thinks is true is a quintessential Conflict which works marvelously for Science Fiction and for Romance genre.  

The discovery that what you think is true, is in fact not true, is an "epiphany."  Or what is now termed "woke" - a state of mind where your eyes suddenly see something different than they did only one blink previously.

The world has not changed, but your method of interpreting it has.

You can study this effect just by staring at one of the optical illusion memes that streak across the internet from time to time.

Blink and it's two vases - blink again and it's two faces. The lines of the drawing haven't changed!  

When you've been hoodwinked, scammed, fooled, made into a patsy, robbed blind, victimized by disinformation, and don't know it, it is two vases -- but suddenly you know it, and it's two faces.

The scam and your position as a victim hasn't changed -- you have.

That change in you is your STORY.

How, why, and when you BLINK (blinking is an action) is your PLOT.

Here is a Wikipedia juxtaposition of well known processes that, if understood in a wider context, can lead to that sort of EPIPHANY at the core of Theme-Story Integration -- the realization that you have been fooled that comes because you have changed, not because your world changed.


Wikipedia - the place to find what people think is true

Game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction among rational decision-makers.[1] It has applications in all fields of social science, as well as in logic, systems science and computer science. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which each participant's gains or losses are exactly balanced by those of the other participants. In the 21st century, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.


Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public in order to affect the public perception. Public relations (PR) and publicity differ in that PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity is not controlled and contributed by external parties.[1] Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.[2] This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations aims to create or obtain coverage for clients for free, also known as 'earned media', rather than paying for marketing or advertising. But in the early 21st century, advertising is also a part of broader PR activities.[3]


Conflict arises (thus plot arises) from discovering how decision makers have "gamed" you by carefully curating the information you have access to.

If you do something about it, they will do something to you.  

Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Piling On

Income for "creatives" is estimated to have dropped 42% in the last decade, according to the Authors Guild, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and some of the Southern States are not helping at all.

Take Georgia's SB 226.  Apparently, it would allow school principals to post copyrighted works in their entirety, online, free to all, with no apparent compensation to the authors or other copyright owners/holders, for up to four years.

What could possibly go wrong?  

How could an author sell a book if one teacher who wanted the book on the curriculum could lodge a claim that the book is objectionable or harmful to minors, and then the State or local board of education could over-rule that teacher's objection, and for the next four years, no school or student would have to purchase or rent that book?

Georgia may be safe from infringement suits. It would appear that the Supreme Court of the United States permits States to violate the copyrights of authors and photographers and other creatives with impunity... if the South Carolina Blackbeard case is precedent.

All the best,

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Special Days

Here's a website that lists all the official, quasi-official, or just plain weird celebratory and commemorative days in the year:

National Day Calendar

Every date has multiple entries, so you should be able to find a special day for just about anything you want to celebrate. The explanatory page for each entry includes the commemoration's origin. Some that aren't official holidays have been established by individuals or organizations, while for others the website says it's still "researching" the source. In other words, they don't know. Since apparently anyone can register and add a day to the calendar, it's possible some of these "special days" are simply things made up by people who thought they would sound cool. They're fun to contemplate, anyway.

Here's a page on the history and possible origins of April Fool's Day:

April Fool's Day

These are just a few of the many "days" listed for this week in 2021, in addition to April Fool's Day and the Christian observances of Holy Week events: March 29 -- National Nevada Day, Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, Vietnam War Veterans Day. (I suspect this last one is real for sure.) March 30 -- Take a Walk in the Park Day, I Am in Control Day, Virtual Vacation Day (probably a new invention for the current situation). March 31 -- Bunsen Burner Day, Clams on the Half Shell Day, Manatee Appreciation Day (founded by an organization dedicated to protecting endangered marine animals). This year April 1, April Fool's Day, is also dedicated to sourdough bread and burritos, as well as the regular annual National Take Down Tobacco Day, whose exact date varies. April 2 -- World Autism Awareness Day and National Reconciliation Day, plus an occasion to appreciate ferrets and peanut-butter-and-jelly (presumably not together). April 3 -- National Chocolate Mousse Day, Find a Rainbow Day, and Love Our Children Day (always the first Saturday in April, according to the website). April 4 -- in addition to being Easter Sunday this year, it celebrates school librarians, newspersons, geologists, and vitamin C, among other entities worthy of recognition. It's also listed as National Walk Around Things Day. Well, that's preferable to Tripping Over Things Day. :)

I can enthusiastically support Chocolate Mousse Day, for one. As for today, it's also designated National One Cent Day. The website doesn't identify its origin, but they offer an interesting overview of the history of the U.S. penny, of which we keep a can-full in a drawer, as many people do:

National One Cent Day

When my husband and I got married, in the mid-1960s, some gumball machines sold candy for one cent, and a retro bargain store near our first apartment carried a few items priced at a penny each. The value of a penny faded to essentially nothing long ago, yet we still understand what's meant by the proverb, "A penny saved is a penny earned."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt